Breaking news: there isn’t just one appeal against the new songwriter-royalty rates proposed by the Copyright Royalty Board in the US. The one from Spotify, Pandora, Google and Amazon we all know about – it was officially filed yesterday in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, and if you’re keen you can read all 92 pages of it here. The DSPs didn’t mince their words, legally speaking.
“It is difficult to imagine a rate-setting decision more riven with confusion, inconsistency, and under-explanation,” the filing claimed, drawing in part on a dissenting opinion previously filed by one of the CRB judges who disagreed with the majority opinion.
But what about those other appeals? The National Music Publishers Association has filed its own appeal, criticising the new rates’ inclusion of ‘membership discounts’ for streaming services with family and student plans – it wants those discounts to be scrubbed from the final rates.
For added spice, Billboard (whose lengthy analysis of the filings we recommend if you can’t face reading them yourself) suggests that it’s these discounts which were part of Spotify’s recent calculations that it had overpaid publishers in 2018. Publishers were angry about that, but now they’ll be waiting to see what comes of the appeal.
Apple Music continues to have played a blinder, industry relations-wise: by accepting the initial rates it has won praise from publishers, yet if the four DSPs’ appeal succeeds, it will still benefit from any changes made to the rates.
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